Quick read: The Afren scandal and the banks that let it happen

Quick read: The Afren scandal and the banks that let it happen

A recent criminal trial in London has revealed how banking negligence enabled a multi-million dollar fraud at the now defunct oil company Afren. Read on for a guide to Olivier Holmey’s feature in the February issue of Euromoney examining the errors made and what the financial sector can learn from them.

Afren criminal trial lays banking weaknesses bare

Afren criminal trial lays banking weaknesses bare

By OLIVIER HOLMEY

A string of due-diligence shortcomings enabled the international fraud that sapped investor confidence in once-booming London-listed oil firm Afren – and has also now led to jail time for its two top executives. What lessons can the banking industry learn from the failings laid bare in the court proceedings?

Africa: Access bites big and fast with Diamond

Africa: Access bites big and fast with Diamond

By OLIVIER HOLMEY

Herbert Wigwe, CEO of Access Bank, says his institution’s announced merger with Diamond Bank will not only make it Africa’s largest bank by customers but also give it the potential to double its client base within just two or three years.

QNB: Strained but undefeated

QNB: Strained but undefeated

Regional difficulties have tested QNB’s resilience, but the bank has managed to consolidate its position at home and maintain its international strength.

Africa: Why Djibouti’s China debt is raising the alarm

Africa: Why Djibouti’s China debt is raising the alarm

By CHRIS WRIGHT

Warning sirens are sounding about the level of debt Djibouti owes to China for Belt and Road projects. The local view is that they need the money and China is the country that is offering it. But the fate of the Djibouti-Addis Ababa railway represents the financial challenges of BRI in a 756-kilometre microcosm.

Banking: How long can Iran hold?

Banking: How long can Iran hold?

By OLIVIER HOLMEY

The Trump administration has begun the process of ostracizing Iranian finance. Bankers there are hanging on to some rare good news, but how long will it be till they are back to square one?

Africa eyes moment of free-trade transformation

Africa eyes moment of free-trade transformation

By KANIKA SAIGAL

The continent is implementing the African Continental Free Trade Agreement to boost intra-regional trade, economic growth and industrialization, but can 54 countries overcome so many obstacles and ratify the agreement?

African IPOs: A drought or a deluge?

African IPOs: A drought or a deluge?

By KANIKA SAIGAL

Bankers believe that Vivo Energy’s dual listing in May has opened the taps on the IPO pipeline in Africa, but with primary equity markets suffering globally, is the continent really an exception?

Banking: Mutual interests bind the Middle East to Asia

Banking: Mutual interests bind the Middle East to Asia

By OLIVIER HOLMEY

Developments in the Gulf’s markets are increasingly being driven by the presence of Asian – and especially Chinese – banks, so no wonder rival financial centres in the region are competing for a bigger slice of the pie.

Banking merger momentum grows in the Gulf

Banking merger momentum grows in the Gulf

By OLIVIER HOLMEY

The formation of First Abu Dhabi Bank, widely viewed as a success, has sparked a series of merger announcements. Will scale make for better performing banks? And could cross-border mergers in the region finally happen?

Sideways: Ken Moelis – Ken of Arabia sticks to one costume

Sideways: Ken Moelis – Ken of Arabia sticks to one costume

By JON MACASKILL

Ken Moelis lived up to his nickname ‘Ken of Arabia’ when he showed up at the Saudi Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh in late October in his brave pursuit of future fee income despite the risk of international opprobrium.

Banking: Can nothing hurt Saudi sentiment?

Banking: Can nothing hurt Saudi sentiment?

The murder of prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has sparked condemnation of the kingdom’s leadership the world over, but as the dust settles after the Future Investment Initiative, what are the real-world effects, if any, of this crisis on Saudi Arabia’s banking ties?

Africa seeks new solutions to its infrastructure needs

Africa seeks new solutions to its infrastructure needs

By JASON MITCHELL

Slower growth is translating into lower government spending on infrastructure. With an estimated funding deficit of $40 billion a year, private-sector solutions from Africa’s home-grown pension fund industry as well as international insurance firms could help plug the gap.

Uganda: Listings outlook brightens after Cipla IPO

Uganda: Listings outlook brightens after Cipla IPO

Cipla Quality Chemicals’ share sale is good news for Uganda’s capital markets, but is still something of a rarity. Investors have little choice when it comes to picking stocks: government borrowing remains high and puts the focus on bonds, while family-owned businesses tend to be wary of opening up to outside investment.

Africa comes under renewed pressure to promote its local bond markets

Africa comes under renewed pressure to promote its local bond markets

With global liquidity conditions tightening, local currency bond markets have a more important role to play in financing African governments and companies. While Ghana and Nigeria are leading the way, other markets are still in the early stages. Poor transparency and liquidity, and a multiplicity of legal regimes are holding back foreign investment.

South Africa’s new banks nip at the heels of the big four

South Africa’s new banks nip at the heels of the big four

By DOMINIC O’NEILL

As the central bank awards its first new banking licences in 20 years, the big four will find it harder to justify the fees that have underpinned their profitability. The newcomers promise technology will facilitate cheaper banking services and tackle inequality.